Of the many decisions a business owner is faced with when they get their business up and running, a very important one is small business software. The nature of their industry might dictate they need something more powerful and specific than just a general program such as QuickBooks. This decision can make or break the business a few years down the road when
they are well established and things are cranking. Lately, I’ve seen several scenarios unfold within small businesses and I was amazed to realize that a lot of it had to do with their software they picked out years ago.
Buy Software You Will Grow Into
Chances are there is software out there that will fit your needs now as a start-up business and a few years down the road when you want to be ‘investor ready.’ Do the thorough research this step requires and make sure you understand what you are going to need to run your business the right way. The price shouldn’t be the main deciding factor when picking out software. Sure, it makes sense to live within your business means, but don’t shop on price alone. Changing software is the last thing you want to do when business is cranking and your workload is at a max.
I’ve worked with various property management firms lately and seen completely opposite views on their mindset when it comes to their software. One mindset is that they can’t find the software that works for them so they must use Excel for a majority of their financial tracking. This scares the crap out of me. I love Excel for many reasons, but none of them are for using it as a robust financial program. You can’t ‘slice and dice’ reports with a click of a button like you can in most programs these days. They are in too deep to change software, or least that’s what they are telling themselves. The other business I worked with totally
understands software is an expensive investment, but it will pay off in the next 12-18 months when their business is growing as they forecasted. Hearing them say ‘investment’ speaks volumes about their understanding of this step. Putting several hours into research and comparing programs is a must; otherwise you could run your business into the ground. Or worse, you could get audited by the state because you are running your Trust accounts through a hodge-podge of software and nothing adds up the way it’s supposed to by law.
Take Advantage Of Customer Service
Almost all software companies have an annual support fee. When I see a client have these expenses on their books and they don’t know their software in and out, I immediately tell them they need to take advantage of what they are paying for. These software companies usually have great support for on the spot help or online classes to help get the proper people trained. If you are paying $3,000 a year for a service contract, but can’t figure out how to generate a certain report, why not pick up the phone to get someone to show you? After all, you are already paying them to be ready to help when you need it. Working in the hospitality industry for many years, I learned that these companies, such as Resort Data Processing, want to help you and train you. If you fully understand how their software works, you are practically going to be a salesman for them when asked whether you know it or not.
We get called or emailed from time to time about a business’s books being a mess and the owner blames it on the actual bookkeeper. It sometimes has nothing to do with their bookkeeper, it has to do with the lack of understanding of their industry specific software that they purchased and never took the time to learn. It’s always tough telling the owners that, but that’s what needs to be done. Like most areas of business, such as efficient bookkeeping, make the software work in the systematic way it’s supposed to and watch things fall in place.